Presentation on theme: "Presentation 18. Introduction We regularly hear about the amazing things that have happened to people because they were in the right place at the right."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction We regularly hear about the amazing things that have happened to people because they were in the right place at the right time. Some time ago a man discovered a treasure trove of ancient Roman coins in a field. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Some months ago a famous actor was being interviewed and was asked how his career had begun. He replied that he'd been sitting in a hotel with some friends when a director came in, took one look at his profile and asked him to audition. The actor told the interviewer, "I suppose I was in the right place at the right time." The passage before us describes a man who was brought to the right place at the right time
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends We're not told a great deal about this man other than that he was a paralytic. Did he persuade his friends to carry him to the place where, "the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick". If anything the text suggests the reverse was true. It was his friends who took the initiative for this encounter with Jesus. Did the infirm man feel that he was beyond help? Did he blame himself for his condition? In the end did he agree to be taken in order to please his friends? We don't know. What we do know was that he was being hustled along the streets of Capernaum by four friends who wanted the best for him. By folk who really cared about the quality of life which he experienced. That's true friendship!
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends We know something else about these friends. They believed Jesus could help where others had failed. They'd seen or heard of the difference that Jesus could make to people’s lives. They may well have experienced something of the powerful influence of Jesus’ ministry in their own lives. This would certainly account for their remarkable faith. They believed Jesus could change their friend’s life. Perhaps we need to pause and ask if we believe Jesus can do that for those around us, for the broken and dispirited lives in our work and neighbourhood. I suspect that although we may answer "yes" in church, we do not really believe, as we ought in the power of Jesus to bring about change.
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends Do you ever look at a situation of human need and say in your heart, "Jesus could change that!" or, do we simply respond by saying, "well we don't have that kind of faith to believe that could be changed"? The instructive thing about the faith of these men was that it refused to be discouraged by difficulties. When they arrived at where Jesus was, the house was packed and a sea of people were pressing in through doors and windows. We might have excused them if they'd said, "We did our best, we tried what more could be asked of us".
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends I suspect we're all too easily discouraged by difficulties. You know the sort of thing, "I asked my neighbour five years ago if he'd like to come to a special service and he said he visited his mum on a Sunday so I haven't thought of asking him again" or "the last time I invited people from homes near the church they promised to come to church but didn't come". Now difficulties are often placed in the way of faith, not to discourage it but to challenge it, to give it room to grow. This is precisely what happens here. The 4 friends saw the crowd and instead of going home discouraged pressed on around the house till they found the stair up onto the roof. Once there, they ripped off the tiles that stood in their way. That's what faith does, it tears away at difficulties.
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends Now v20 is one of the most amazing verses in this passage, "when Jesus saw their faith", he reached out to their friend. In the first instance it was not the man’s faith but the faith of the four friends that Jesus responded to. The faith of the friends operated vicariously. Their faith set the ball rolling for Jesus to deal with their friend’s need. Someone has called this a "powerful corrective to the exaggerated individualism of our day".
Presentation 18 The Faith Of The Friends Our faith can prevail for others until they are able to believe for themselves. It was true of these men, it is true of parents who bring their children to God for baptism, it is equally true of those believers who bring friends and contacts to God in prayer or who bring them to sit under God's word? This incident should be of great encouragement to church fellowships as they engage in outreach.Of course it is important for people to come to a place where they exercise faith in Jesus for themselves but the faith of others in the early stages of their exploration of the faith is no less important.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus Jesus responded by addressing the root of the man’s problem. "Your sins are forgiven". How are we to understand this? Was the man's paralysis the product of his guilty past? Some would answer "yes". Psychiatry tells us that a disturbed mind can produce physical symptoms including paralysis. Human guilt can sometimes wreck havoc with the body’s health. So that by focusing upon this man’s sin, Jesus was dealing not with the symptom, paralysis, but with the root cause the guilt of his sin.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus A second explanation of Jesus’ words, "your sins are forgiven" points out that as Jesus looked down on this paralysed man he wanted both the man and the crowd to understand what the man's greatest need truly was. Oh it is a wonderful thing to be able to heal the body but there is an even greater need in every human life than that of physical wholeness and that is the need for spiritual wholeness. Clearly, the greatest need of men who are estranged from God because of their sin is forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s this primary need which Jesus addresses.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus Whichever of the two explanations we adopt for the meaning of Jesus’ words what is certain is that Jesus considered the man’s greatest need to be forgiveness. Human guilt has a greater crippling effect upon our lives than anything else. The news on TV some time back showed a photograph taken of the warder in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland prior to his arrest. He had betrayed his colleagues and was responsible for his death. The T.V. commentator said, "Even before his arrest the strain of his guilty deed is clearly seen on his face". How can such a man deal with his guilt?
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus There are those today who would say the answer is to "Get rid of your guilt feelings, for a little cruelty, a little promiscuity, a little bit of infidelity, a little betrayal is not so bad". Imagine the warder we mentioned meeting with a prison psychiatrist and being told, "The way to deal with your guilt feelings is to see that they are produced by a society, which has conditioned you to think certain things are wrong. Don't allow yourself to be crushed by the conditioning of your parents, your Sunday school teachers, your Minister or the law courts". Does that shock you? There's a school of psychiatry that deals with guilt feelings in precisely that way.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus The man who feels guilty about some promiscuous or adulterous relationship is told these feelings have been produced by society and therefore its conditioning has to be thrown off. Let’s return to our prison warder. He might come into contact with a prison visitor who says, "If only you could see that by serving society, by trying to make amends, by doing good, by being a part of our sponsored prison marathon for the physically disabled you would by your good deeds drive out these feelings of guilt.” A great many people try to deal with guilt in this way. They slave their lives away trying to offset their guilty past with good works.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus But is this how guilt is dealt with? Jesus did not say to the paralysed man, “You could get rid of your feelings of guilt by blaming the conditioning of society or by dedicating your life to doing good". Why? These approaches may dampen the feelings of guilt but they do not remove guilt. Guilt isn’t a feeling it’s a condition. Let me illus. In a court of law a man stands accused of a great crime, the prosecution has a watertight case, the evidence is irrefutable, the judge is about to pass sentence and the accused says, "Just a minute your honour despite all that you have heard, I would like you to know that I don’t feel guilty". Is he thereby acquitted? No! The judge doesn’t take his feelings into consideration. Similarly we don’t adequately deal with guilt, because we are able to say, "I no longer feel guilty".
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus Jesus offered the man more than the removal of guilt feelings. He offered the removal of his guilt and so he spoke of forgiveness. But someone will ask, "How can a just and holy God acquit those who are guilty?" That’s a good question. Can God allow his laws to be broken and then say, "Its OK I'll let you off," and still remain just? No he cannot. God can only forgive if at the same time his justice is satisfied. But God's justice has been satisfied. Where? At Calvary! Jesus bore the guilt and punishment of our wrong so that by faith in him we might receive the forgiveness of God. Jesus not only proclaimed but also provided forgiveness.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus Who better that Jesus to speak words of forgiveness? It was his law the man had broken. It was his death that would secure the man’s forgiveness. The Pharisees weren't convinced that Jesus had this authority. They couldn't see that he was God incarnate. You see they were thinking, "Its easy to speak words of forgiveness but we can’t see into this mans heart, we can't tell if the guilt has been removed, we can’t put this claim to the test”. Seeing the drift of their thinking Jesus askedv22... In other words, “by doing something simpler than forgiving the man, I'll authenticate my claim.” He then told the man to get up and go home. The man was not only entering a period of new physical freedom he was walking away from his guilty past as a forgiven man.
Presentation 18 The Response Of Jesus Jesus is unique. He is not simply in the business of making people feel better; a bottle of spirits can do that. Rather he is in the business of restoring men to a right relationship with God. He begins to put together their shattered and broken lives. Humpty Dumpty couldn’t be put together again but man in his brokenness can. Those who are crippled by guilt discover a new freedom. The burden of guilt rolls off their shoulders. The haunted look disappears from their faces; there's a new brightness in their eyes a new spring in their step, a new song in their heart, a new joy in their lives.
Presentation 18 Conclusion Do we have friends and acquaintances who need to meet with Jesus? A Jesus who will not view them with scorn and condemnation but with love and forgiveness, raising them to newness of life? Do we have the determined faith of the four men that will cause us bring our friends to Jesus? Or, do we shrug our shoulders and say the task is too hard? Perhaps you are crippled by guilt and ask, “How can I in my condition presume to bring anyone to Jesus?” Forgiveness is something Jesus eagerly and freely bestows in response to repentance and faith in him. Come with empty hands and a trusting heart and you too will hear Jesus say, "Friend your sins are forgiven"